The Canary Island archipelago features some of Europe’s most idyllic and exotic islands.
Often compared to Hawaii (there are seven islands in each of these island chains), the Canary Islands are one of the few destinations within Europe that remain sunny and warm all year long, making them the ideal spot for an escape in any season. These islands are best known for their beaches (both black and white sand), volcanic wineries, and towering mountains.
- Gran Canaria
- La Gomera
- La Palma
- El Hierro
Canary Islands Travel Logistics
You can fly to the larger Canary Islands such as Tenerife and Gran Canaria from many European hubs. And not just from Madrid or Barcelona. Flights operate regularly between the island’s capitals and spots like Paris, London, Frankfurt, Stockholm and more. Get updates on flight deals as they arise right here. You can also search for hotel deals at the islands we mention.
Rent a Car
Once there, it’s best to consider renting a car, regardless of what island you’re heading to. Public transport runs on island time, so having a car will allow you to explore some of the island’s best spots.
The islands belong to Spain (part of the EU), so you’ll need to have some euros on hand. While most larger establishments will accept credit cards, some smaller local bars and restaurants may not.
Remember, these islands are part of Europe, but are closer to Africa where the sun is strong. Make sure to bring high factor sunblock and use it.
Canary Islands Spain: Details on Visiting Each Island
Tenerife is the largest and most well-known of the Canary Islands. Visitors can enjoy the bustling capital of Santa Cruz or the black sand beaches located throughout the island. Hikes are best done at Anaga Natural Park, which has a rainy, tropical microclimate, or at famed volcano Teide, Spain’s largest summit.
RELATED: Tenerife 7-Day Itinerary: Wine Tasting, Volcanos, Surfing & Beaches
You can also sample volcanic wine at spots like Monje Winery, a Winetraveler favorite for its gorgeous tasting terrace with sea views. Note that the north of the island is more lush and hilly, but rainier. Sunbirds should head to the southern side of Tenerife for prime beach weather. Here are some luxury accommodation recommendations on Tenerife as well.
Adding to the allure of Tenerife is Anaga Natural Park’s verdant hiking trails and the grandeur of Mount Teide. Winetravelers can embark on a whale and dolphin watching tour off the island’s southwestern coast – a sight that’s sure to inspire both young and old. In fact, this particular tour offered by our friends at Monte Cristo Catamaran, includes lunch and drinks while you watch the whales and dolphins frolic.
The enchanting village of Masca, tucked away in the Teno Mountains, is another hidden gem to explore while on Tenerife, with its dramatic landscapes and winding paths.
Furthermore, Tenerife’s vibrant night skies are a treat for stargazers. The island, declared a “Starlight Tourist Destination,” provides unmatched opportunities for astronomical observation. Teide National Park, in particular, is a popular spot for star gazing events. Book a night stargazing tour with Night Skies Tenerife, high-end telescopes included, for an experience you’ll never forget.
More Things to Do in Tenerife
Gran Canaria has some unique attractions unlike any other, such as the massive Saharan Maspalomas sand dunes that might make you think you’re lost in Africa or the Middle East. Las Palmas is the capital of the island if you want a little history and architecture. Similar to Tenerife, the best weather and sandy beaches are found in the drier south. However, don’t discount the island’s northern secrets, like the famed Nublo Rock for hiking, or the views from the Tamadaba Natural Park. Take a look at recommended hotels on Gran Canaria here.
For the intrepid traveler, Gran Canaria offers even more captivating experiences. Immerse yourself in the traditional Canarian way of life in the picturesque village of Teror, where every building is an architectural gem and the Basilica de la Virgen del Pino stands as a symbol of local culture.
Explore the serene beauty of Guayadeque Ravine, a natural reserve that boasts a unique ecosystem, prehistoric cave dwellings, and a quaint cave restaurant serving local delicacies.
Dive into the Atlantic’s azure waters that surround the island, which are considered among the best diving spots in Europe. You might encounter vibrant marine life such as angel sharks, rays, and barracuda in the El Cabrón Marine Reserve. Book a diving experience on Gran Canaria ASAP if you’re planning on visiting. These experiences sell out quickly. If you’re a beginner, Blue Water Diving offers lessons and excursions.
For a taste of Gran Canaria’s vibrant nightlife, head to Playa del Inglés, where an array of beachfront bars, clubs, and restaurants come alive as the sun sets.
RELATED: Gran Canaria 7-Day Itinerary: Sandy Beaches & Epic Hikes
Finally, don’t forget to explore the island’s thriving culinary scene. From the award-winning cheeses of Arucas and Moya to the deliciously sweet Bienmesabe dessert, Gran Canaria offers a tantalizing feast for the senses.
More Tours & Things to Do on Gran Canaria
This island is another spot to visit if you’re interested in sampling volcanic wine. Mix and match hiking in the volcanic Timafaya National Park with wine tours. The Winetraveler favorite is La Geria, where a tour of the volcanic vineyards and a tasting costs just 10 euro per person. If you’re really planning on visiting Lanzarote for wine tasting, there’s no better locally guided tour option than Blackstone Treks.
For some sun, Playa del Papagayo is one of the most famous beaches on the island. And, don’t miss the Cesar Manrique Home and Museum, housing works of the island’s most beloved artist. There are also a number of luxury hotel options on Lanzarote.
Lanzarote offers so much more for the discerning traveler. Venture to the unique Jameos del Agua, a remarkable creation by Cesar Manrique that artistically combines the natural beauty of a volcanic cave with modern architectural elements. This enchanting venue hosts a concert hall, restaurant, and a pool, providing a captivating venue to enjoy the island’s cultural offerings.
Step back in time with a visit to Teguise, the island’s former capital. With its charming cobbled streets, traditional Canarian architecture, and Sunday market filled with local crafts and delicacies, it offers a delightful slice of Lanzarote’s history.
For nature lovers, a boat trip to La Graciosa, a small island off the northern coast of Lanzarote, is a must. With its untouched beaches and car-free roads, it provides a tranquil escape from the modern world.
Indulge in the island’s rich culinary scene by trying some traditional dishes like wrinkly potatoes (‘papas arrugadas’) and ‘mojo’ sauce. Or, feast on freshly caught seafood in the seaside village of El Golfo, known for its dramatic green lagoon and stunning sunsets.
Lastly, experience the calming wellness practices of Lanzarote. Many resorts offer yoga sessions and spa treatments inspired by the island’s volcanic elements, adding a holistic dimension to your stay.
More Tours & Experiences on Lanzarote
This island was made for beach bums. With many gorgeous stretches of golden sand, there’s plenty of coastline to go around. Just note that this island is very breezy (if you couldn’t tell by its name, which means high winds in Spanish). Some of the top spots to visit are the lagoon beaches of Sotavento in the south and El Cotillo’s white sands and lava rocks in the north. Surfers of all kinds (wind, kite, and traditional) flock to the blustery Flag Beach. For a day excursion, brave the dirt roads to get to the hidden Playa del Cofete, backed by volcanic peaks. Relax at any number of these beautiful hotels.
RELATED: Fuerteventura 7-Day Itinerary: Windswept Beaches & Volcanic Vibes
Beyond its breezy beaches, Fuerteventura holds a myriad of other experiences. The island’s rugged interior, with its volcanic landscapes and traditional villages, is a paradise for hikers and culture enthusiasts alike. Consider a trek to the sacred mountain of Tindaya, a site of ancient importance imbued with timeless mystique.
The island’s history can be further explored in the charming town of Betancuria, the oldest town in the Canaries, where the Santa Maria church and Casa Santa Museum offer intriguing insights into the local heritage.
For those looking to engage with the ocean’s bounty, Fuerteventura boasts excellent conditions for deep-sea fishing, with opportunities to catch species such as blue marlin and tuna. Alternatively, you could explore the island’s underwater world through scuba diving in locations like Ajuy and Jandía.
Foodies will appreciate the island’s gastronomic offerings – from locally made Majorero cheese to fresh-off-the-boat seafood. Be sure to pair these local delicacies with a glass of Spanish wine for the ultimate culinary experience.
More Tours & Experiences to Book in Lanzarote
For black sand beaches and stunning viewpoints, head to La Gomera. The island is also famous for its Garajonay National Forest. It’s one of the few places in Europe to see the impressive and rare laurel trees. Don’t forget to take a boat trip out to Los Órganos, a massive rock formation overlooking the crashing sea reminiscent of an actual organ. Take a look at these hotel recommendations if you’re spending more than a day on the island.
Immerse yourself further into La Gomera’s distinctive charm as you explore its captivating towns and villages. Stroll the atmospheric streets of San Sebastián, the island’s capital, following the historical footsteps of Christopher Columbus who stopped here on his voyage to the New World. Visit the Church of the Assumption and the Well of Aguada, both associated with the legendary explorer.
The island also offers unique culinary delights. Be sure to try ‘almogrote’, a spicy cheese paste, and ‘potaje de berros’, a delicious watercress soup, both traditional Gomeran dishes. Pair these with a glass of locally produced wine for an authentic taste of the island’s cuisine.
For an extraordinary cultural experience, learn about ‘Silbo Gomero’, a unique whistled language used by locals for long-distance communication across the island’s deep ravines and wide valleys. It’s recognized as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
And, if you are a lover of the night sky, La Gomera offers an exceptional stargazing experience due to its clear, low light pollution skies.
More Tours & Experiences to Book in La Gomera
Considering staying on La Palma, one of the top stargazing spots in the world. Thanks to the island’s focus on astrotourism, you can take an Astro Tour, or simply head to some of the observatories or stargazing points yourself. During daylight hours, enjoy the exotic black sand beaches. Or, plan to scuba or snorkel, as the island’s waters are a protected marine reserve.
Beyond stargazing and beach lounging, La Palma presents a myriad of other enticing adventures. Embark on a journey to the past in the island’s historic town of Santa Cruz de La Palma, adorned with traditional Canarian architecture and a bustling market offering local crafts and produce.
Trek the breathtaking hiking trails of Caldera de Taburiente National Park, a massive crater lush with pine forests, cascading waterfalls, and intriguing rock formations. The park also houses Roque de los Muchachos, the island’s highest peak, offering panoramic views that will leave you in awe.
For wine connoisseurs, La Palma’s vineyards, again, on volcanic soil, produce exceptional wines worth tasting. The island’s unique ‘Vino de Tea’ is a must-try, made from vines grown on pine trellises.
Also, get yourself into the island’s cultural richness. La Palma’s festivals, such as the Bajada de la Virgen or Los Indianos Carnival, are events filled with color, music, and dance, embodying the vibrant spirit of Palmeros.
Finally, eat, if you haven’t already. Dine on a variety of fresh seafood, a staple of the island’s gastronomy. Indulge in local specialities like ‘vieja’, a type of parrotfish, typically served with ‘mojo verde’, a green, coriander-based sauce.
More Tours & Experiences to Book in La Palma
One of the smallest Canary Islands, sustainable travelers should head to El Hierro. The island’s claim to fame is that it runs on 100% renewable energy. The island is also rife with marine life apt for divers and snorkelers. For those wanting to stay on dry land, hiking in El Golfo Valley offers some stunning views of El Hierro’s diverse landscape. There are also a number of natural swimming pools ideal for a dip, like El Charco Azul. This island also has some beautiful spa resorts to stay at.
Unearth more of El Hierro’s fascinating offerings as you delve into its charming villages and rich cultural heritage. The village of Sabinosa, known as ‘the village of the witches’, holds intriguing folklore tales tied to its beautiful landscapes. Pay a visit to the Church of La Candelaria in Frontera, an architectural gem dating back to the 18th century.
El Hierro’s cuisine is another captivating aspect of the island’s experience. Try ‘quesadillas herreñas’, a local sweet pastry, or fresh ‘vieja’, a native fish often prepared grilled or in a succulent stew. The island’s artisanal cheeses are also noteworthy, especially the ‘queso herreño’, awarded several times in international competitions.
For the history buff, explore the island’s archaeological sites, such as the petroglyphs in El Julan or the Bimbache ceremonial site of Tagoror. El Hierro also holds a rich tradition of craftsmanship. Visit local workshops to witness the creation of handmade pottery and woven goods, maintaining ancestral techniques.
Nature lovers will relish in the island’s biodiversity, spotting unique endemic species like the Giant Lizard of El Hierro in the Lagartario. And, for those seeking tranquility, the peacefulness of El Hierro, away from bustling tourist spots, offers a serene refuge.
More Tours & Experiences to Book in El Hierro
Frequently Asked Questions about the Canary Islands
You can’t go wrong with a visit to any of the Canary Islands. Depending on your interests, there is definitely an island right for you — and if you love beaches, nature and exploring, you’ll love them all!
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